v1 That night the king could not sleep. He ordered that someone should bring the book of the official records of his rule. He ordered that they should read it to him.
v2 In the book, he discovered the report about Mordecai. Mordecai had warned the king about Bigthan and Teresh. They were the king’s officials who guarded the door. They had planned to kill King Xerxes.
v3 The king said, ‘What great honour have we given to Mordecai for this?’
‘We have not done anything for him’, his servants answered.
v4 The king said, ‘Who is in the yard?’
Haman had entered the outer yard of the king’s palace. He had come to speak to the king. He wanted the king to hang Mordecai on the *gallows. Haman had prepared the *gallows for Mordecai.
v5 The king’s servants said, ‘Haman is standing in the yard.’
‘Tell him to come in’, the king answered.
Verses 1-5 We do not know why the king could not sleep. We do not know why he chose to read the books of official records. Maybe he thought that they were very dull. They would make him sleepy. But we know that this was part of God’s plan.
The kings of Persia were generous to loyal people. It is strange that the king had not rewarded Mordecai before. So now, the king wanted to reward Mordecai immediately. This too was part of God’s plan.
It was probably almost dawn. The king wanted advice about how he should reward Mordecai. He decided to ask the first important official that he could find. It was Haman. Haman got up early. At quite the right time, he came to see the king. He wanted the king to hang Mordecai. Then Haman could enjoy his meal with the king and queen. Perhaps Haman also did not sleep well.
v6 So Haman came in. The king said to him, ‘The king really wants to show honour to a certain man. What should the king do for that man?’
Now Haman thought to himself, ‘The king really wants to show honour to me. Nobody else deserves the king’s honour.’
v7 And Haman answered the king, ‘This is how the king should show honour to that man. v8 Bring royal clothes that the king has worn. And bring a horse that the king has ridden, with a royal crown on its head. v9 Give the clothes and the horse to one of the king’s most important princes. He should put the clothes on the man whom the king wants to receive this honour. Then the prince should lead that man, on horseback, through the main street of the city. He should declare in front of that man, “When the king really wants to show honour to a man, the king rewards that man in this manner.” ’
Verses 6-9 The king did not ask Haman what he wanted. Instead, the king asked Haman for advice, but the king did not mention Mordecai’s name. Haman was proud. He thought that the king wanted to show him honour. It was usual for kings of Persia to ask people how they would like the king to show them honour. Haman did not choose riches. He was already very rich. He chose a reward that made him seem very important. He wanted to dress like the king himself and to ride the king’s own horse. This would happen in the main street of the city, where everybody could see him.
v10 Then the king said to Haman, ‘Go at once; take the clothes and the horse. Do what you have said to Mordecai the *Jew. He sits at the king’s gate. Do not neglect anything that you have suggested.’
v11 So Haman got the clothes and the horse. He put the clothes on Mordecai and led him, on horseback, through the main street of the city. He declared, in front of him, ‘When the king really wants to show honour to a man, the king rewards that man in this manner.’
Verses 10-11 The king agreed with Haman’s advice. But he gave Haman a shock. The king said that he wanted to reward Mordecai. So the king ordered Haman to reward his enemy Mordecai, as Haman had wanted the king to reward him. Haman had to obey.
The king knew that Mordecai was a *Jew. This must have made Haman uneasy. It also shows that Haman had lied to the king. He had said that the *Jews were not a benefit to the king (Esther 3:8). It shows something else too. The king did not know which nation Haman wanted to destroy.
v12 Then Mordecai went back to the king’s gate. But Haman hurried to go to his house. He covered his head in shame and he was very miserable.
v13 He told his wife Zeresh and all his friends everything that had happened to him. His wife Zeresh and his wise men said to him, ‘Mordecai is a *Jew and, because of him, you are starting to lose your power. You cannot succeed against him. You will certainly fail.’
v14 While they were still talking to him, the king’s officials came to hurry Haman to the meal. This was the meal that Esther had prepared.
Verses 12-14 Mordecai must have been very surprised by what his enemy Haman did to him. Mordecai remained humble and he went back to his place at the king’s gate. Haman would have been very proud if the king had rewarded him in that way. (See Esther 5:9-11.) Haman covered his head as he went home. He did this because he was so miserable. He told his wife and friends what had happened. The wise men were probably the same friends who had given him advice the day before (Esther 5:14). His wife and friends gave him very different advice this time. The day before they had advised him to kill Mordecai. But Haman had told them that Mordecai was a *Jew (Esther 5:13). Now even Haman’s friends seemed to believe that God would protect his *Jewish people.